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(Dec. 2021) I was minding my own business when the email came. CEO and founder of Zymosi kefir, Maxim Drobit, had contacted me. He found my website, The Science of Nutrition (www.thescienceofnutrition.me), happy to find someone, who believes dairy is good for you. My wife Gloria and I are ageless examples of the benefits of dairy, which we rely on heavily for sustenance. We enjoy eating, analyzing, and experimenting with it, so we are simpatico. Having worked for other dairy companies (i.e., Organic Valley, Trimona yogurt) and now Zymosi (https://www.facebook.com/zymosi.inc/), I’m milking it for all I can.

Most people don’t realize dairy is a superfood, chock full of nutrition. It has to be, because infant mammals of all kinds feed and grow on it, exclusively. Dairy contains most everything necessary for growth and overall health. Of course, I’m talking about great dairy: whole fat, grass-fed, organic, unadulterated milk, full of vitamins, minerals, protein and yummy good fats. Even better, if it’s fermented.

In the current climate, milk is anything but good. People are moving away from it in droves, thanks to the toxic practices of big dairy and factory farms. Almost 95% of dairy comes from the wrong cows, which mass-produce low-quality milk containing toxic proteins (e.g., A1 beta-casein). These poor, confined animals are force-fed hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and bad food (GMO corn, wheat, soy), which sicken both the cows and the people consuming their products. Even some “organic” farms cut corners on quality. Unfortunately, many issues (whether it is local, fermented, grass-fed, organic, lactose-free, whole fat, unsweetened, raw, etc.) must be navigated by consumers to get the best out of dairy. No wonder why competition from plant-based milks is increasing. But plant-based “milk” is not nearly as nutritious, and could be even more problematic.

If conventional milk were my only option, I’d go dairy free, too. Thankfully, there are a handful of companies that still provide top-quality milk, similar to what folks ate a century ago, before food scientists adulterated it. A great resource for dairy products is the Cornucopia Institute, which rates products on their nutritional quality and carbon footprint. They provide several scorecards (https://www.cornucopia.org/scorecards/) for milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc., to help us choose wisely. Maybe they’ll do something on kefir soon, though their dairy scorecard pretty much says it all.

Fermentation adds another dimension to the quality of dairy, true for both kefir and yogurt. Strangely, Gloria and I are yogurt lovers, but have never tried kefir until now. It’s a traditional way to consume and preserve dairy that most Americans are clueless about. So I’m glad I got this opportunity. It seems to be a more comprehensive way to get probiotics over that of yogurt or probiotic pills, with all the good “bugs” it contains. We started out just wanting to taste it, but ended up digging much deeper.

I began studying kefir in earnest, once Maxim contacted me. And we’ve been enriched by it, both culturally and nutritionally. We learned a bit about kefir every day, while sampling Zymosi products. The company sent us seven quarts of kefir by mail, including two types of plain kefir, a baked kefir, and four flavored versions, including mango, black currant, guava, raspberry. It took us several weeks to get through it all, while limiting ourselves to 2 ounces daily. And what a treat it was!

Two of the kefir products (mango & plain) went with me on a weekend excursion to Kingston, NY, where I shared them with friends at a community gathering. Someone brought another brand of kefir, and was surprised how much different (thicker and creamier) Zymosi tasted. She thought the plain kefir was sweetened; that’s how good it tastes. It was a winner, especially for a bunch of health-minded folk looking for quality nutrients and sustainable fare. 

My taste buds are not the best, but “supertaster” Gloria has a liking for savory foods, like tart, plain yogurt (e.g., Trimona, Blue Hill, Seven Stars). She especially liked the plain kefir, but was an eager participant for all the other Zymosi kefir products. In contrast, I’m a slave to sweets, but I found the tart, plain varieties to be delicious, and that’s unusual for me. Everybody’s taste is different. But, surprisingly, all these kefirs were outstanding. I preferred the Black Currant, maybe because it was the first one we opened. It just seemed so perfectly balanced. Gloria was partial to the Guava, among the flavored kefirs. She also took to adding granola to her daily sample.

When it’s as wholesome and tasty as Zymosi kefir, it’s hard to find fault. But we raised a couple of critical points. Some of the products contained little “cheesy” morsels. And the clear bottles expose how the curd separates out, which looks unsettling. These are minor points, to be sure. Interestingly, Maxim is so proud of what he created, he packaged it in clear bottles – transparent and simple. Separation of ingredients is easily remedied by a good shaking.

After immersing ourselves in a kefir fest that lasted a few weeks, we finally finished all the samples. What an opportunity to taste some of the most delicious and complex foods on the planet. Unfortunately, there’s not a drop left, and we’re not in an area where they sell this product. We’re just happy to have been exposed to something so righteous and tasty. And to think we could have lived our whole lives without ever doing kefir, particularly great kefir.

Zymosi starts with the right ingredients. Their milk is a product of love. A happy cow makes delicious, healthy milk. They work with local Amish farmers, who practice regenerative (sustainable, closed-loop) farming to source the best milk. They are very picky about with whom they work. Farmers need to follow grass-fed and animal welfare guidelines. Their pasture-raised, grass-fed, whole milk is not homogenized (The butterfat is left in its natural, non-oxidized state.) and is low-temperature pasteurized, keeping it as natural, healthy and tasty as possible. The nutrient-dense, fatty, whole milk is kept intact, with all the essential minerals (calcium, iodine, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc), omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins (A, B6, B12, D). Travel distance from farm to creamery is just a few miles. Zymosi is grass-fed approved, but working on regenerative organic approval.

In contrast to most dairy farms, cows roam freely on regenerative farms, distributing “fertilizer”, trampling their poop and plant matter into the ground, to aerate, fertilize and restore the soil. This system works to improve the quality of life for all living creatures. This intimate relationship with farmers and the earth informs consumers about Nature’s intensions. Zymosi oversees every step in the process, from barn to cow, to pasture, to milking, fermentation, bottling & delivery. Their cows–Fleckvieh, Jersey and Holstein breeds–graze year round, except when they eat organic hay in winter. They use rotational grazing to provide fresh pastures daily, to include super greens like red clover, alfalfa, rye grass, orchard grass, and meadow fescue: perfect for creating quality whole milk.

Zymosi comes from the Greek language meaning fermentation. The plain kefir has only two ingredients: whole, grass-fed milk and friendly bacteria. The unique live and active bacterial blend used contains 15 different bacterial cultures and 216 billion living organisms (CFUs) per bottle. Nine Lactobacillus strains are present, including the heralded gut specialists, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosis and L. reuteri. Three important bifido strains are also part of the culture that makes this kefir so creamy, and gut friendly. Feeling good on the inside goes far to make you feel good all over. Talk about probiotic!

Despite the simple ingredients, kefir is a complex product. A decadent, creamy, thick and perfectly tangy kefir rests on both high-quality ingredients and perfect technique. The symbiotic fermentation, made in small batches for perfect balance and quality control, requires love, patience and care. And the craftsmanship is second to none. Zymosi also contains no added hormones (rBST), is BPA free, gluten free, kosher, and certified grass-fed. They do everything right.

And you can’t beat the nutrition. With 10 grams of high-quality protein, 11 grams of healthy fat, only 7 grams of sugar, per serving, their plain kefir product supports a healthy metabolism. The flavored varieties have more sugar, but it is low compared to most dairy products. Don’t be afraid of the fats in this kefir: they provide one of the most complex and nutritious meals, especially since the milk comes from grass-fed cows. Indeed, there are over 400 different types of fats in dairy, so there are benefits that haven’t even been discovered yet! Grass-fed dairy also contains substantially higher levels of fat-soluble antioxidants, like vitamin A, vitamin E and CLA, a powerful immune-enhancing substance. It also boasts up to half the requirement for iodine, a hard-to-get nutrient that is essential for thyroid health. Grass-fed dairy has a greater complexity biochemically than just about any other food.

When it comes to food and drink, taste is king. But it’s also nice when it’s nutrient dense, full of goodness and sustainable. My job is to get the word out, when I believe in something. Open a bottle of Zymosi kefir, and taste the quality. Slow down and savor it, if you can. Betcha you can’t take just one sip.

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